Oregon introduces legislation to create framework for cannabis commerce across state lines
With nearly 1.3 million pounds of pot sitting in storage, Oregonians have been searching for a way to legally sell or trade their excess of cannabis.
The recently introduced Senate Bill 582 would allow for interstate trade in pot products between Oregon’s adjoining states: California, Nevada, and Washington, where recreational cannabis use is legalized.
The bill, if passed as currently written, would establish the framework for “cross-jurisdictional coordination and enforcement of marijuana-related businesses,” between adjoining states where cannabis is legal.
Currently, federal law prohibits states that have legalized marijuana from buying or selling to other states, regardless of the legal status of cannabis in that particular state.
Oregonians feel that as a “green” policy wave flows over the country, the prohibition of interstate commerce of cannabis will end, and Oregon cannabis businesses need to be prepared for that.
What would the bill do?
The bill, as introduced, would give the governor of Oregon the authority to negotiate cannabis trade agreements with adjoining states with cannabis programs.
To address concerns about federal regulations, the bill specifically prohibits the transportation of marijuana by air as airspace is federally regulated. The bill also precludes “any mode of transportation subject solely to federal regulation.”
By addressing federal regulations as they pertain to transportation, the bill would allow for the transportation of marijuana that is solely subject to state and local regulation.
The sponsors of the bill, State Sen. Floyd Prozanski and State Rep. Ken Helm are both lawyers, and thus aware of the current federal prohibition of cannabis. As shipping marijuana from one state to another is currently a felony, they ensured that the proposed legislation is merely a preliminary effort to be ready when the federal prohibition is lifted.
Billy Williams, U.S. Attorney for Oregon, told the Associated Press in response to the bill that, unfortunately, regardless of SB 582’s optimistic intentions, shipping marijuana outside of state lines is still a federal crime.
“The bill is an attempt to remedy the rampant overproduction and trafficking of marijuana outside of Oregon,” Williams said.
SB0582 to move cannabis over state lines
Getting ahead of the constitutional curve
Establishing any kind of new program through the legislative process takes time. According to Donald Morse, a Portland-based consultant for the cannabis industry, it took more than a year for Oregon to establish a regulatory structure for non-medical marijuana.
If the federal marijuana prohibition ends, Oregon will want to get their product out, not to be mired by having to establish new bureaucratic processes.
“That’s what the Senate bill is all about,” Morse stated. “It allows rules and regulations to be written, so that, when they have the federal government’s blessing, they can move at the blink of the eye. It allows us to be proactive.”
Among those testifying on behalf of SB 582 included the City of Portland. Suke Rhee, the Director of the city’s Office of Community and Civic Life, and Brandon Goldner, the city’s cannabis program supervisor, said that Oregon could be at the forefront of setting national cannabis policy thus promoting the state’s pot brand.
“Recreational cannabis marketplaces in each state have been limited to trade within their own borders,” Rhee and Goldner said in a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “We believe the time has come for that to change.”
Oregon’s current over-supply of cannabis is common knowledge. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission recently found that there’s currently six-and-a-half years worth of consumption in cannabis inventory in the recreational system.
By allowing Oregon cannabis growers to export their product to neighboring states legally, this could help deplete Oregon’s surplus supply of cannabis.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing created a working group that will focus on three areas: how to give the state the authority for out-of-state transfers of cannabis; identify partner states; and how to include some level of federal permission.
Pot purveyors will have to wait and see if some sort of legislative compromise will allow for the interstate commerce of cannabis.
*Header Image: Marijuana Wellness Products, Hollywood, Portland, Oregon (2014)/ Source: Another Believer